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Facts & history of the Republic of Roses Island
The island was built by Italian engineer Giorgio Rosa, who made himself its president and declared it an independent state on 1 May 1968
The bizarre history of the Republic of Rose Island, a micronation on a man-made platform off the coast of Italy – Weird Italy
The Republic of Rose Island (Repubblica dell’Isola delle Rose) was the name given to an artificial platform of 400 m² that stood in the Adriatic Sea at 11612 m off the coast between Rimini and Bellaria-Igea Marina and 500 m outside Italian territorial waters, designed by engineer Giorgio Rosa in 1958 and completed in 1967. Rosa made himself its president and declared it an independent state on 1 May 1968.
The Rose Island, while giving itself an official language (Esperanto), a government, a currency, and a postal distribution service was never formally recognized by any country in the world as an independent nation. Occupied by Italian police forces on June 26, 1968, and subjected to a naval blockade, the Rose Island was demolished in February 1969.
The Isle of Roses adopted a currency : the Mill (plural Mills), which was translated into Esperanto as Milo (plural Miloj). The value of the Mill, at the time, had to correspond to a 1:1 exchange rate, on a par with the Italian lira. No coins or banknotes are known to have been produced. The Rose Island “issued” however a number of stamps. Rosa furnished it with a few commercial establishments, including a restaurant, bar, nightclub, souvenir shop, and post office.
“An ordinary man cannot make himself an island” Giorgio Rosa
In 1958 Giorgio Rosa decided to build the platform in front of Rimini, outside Italian territorial waters. The structure was supported by nine pylons. The materials were transported to their destination by floating. The first inspection of the chosen point took place between July 15 and July 16, 1958. The inspections were carried out using a steel boat and propelled by a Fiat 500 engine, and continued throughout the summer of 1960, twice a week, using a hut on the pier of Rimini as a base.
In the summer of 1962, however, due to technical and financial problems, work came to a standstill and in October the Italian authorities ordered him to remove any obstacle to navigation.
The official language was Esperanto. Respubliko de la Insulo de la Rozoj
Throughout 1965 and 1966 work on fitting out the structure continued slowly, due to adverse weather and sea conditions.
Again in 1966, the harbor master’s office of Rimini ordered the cessation of work without any authorization. On May 20, 1967, Rosa’s team identified a freshwater aquifer at a depth of 280 meters. On August 20, 1967, the island was opened to the public.
Initially, the available area was 400 m², but soon the works were started to build a second floor. The platform was also equipped with a landing area for boats (the “Haveno Verda”) – which was done through docks and stairs – with rubber hoses filled with fresh water to calm the body of water intended for landing.
“I didn’t speak Esperanto, but it was a way to emphasize the diversity of the island, to enhance its freedom”
Declaration of Independence
The artificial island unilaterally declared independence on May 1, 1968, with Giorgio Rosa as president, but it was not made public with a press conference until Monday, June 24, 1968.
In this period the maritime traffic from the Italian coast to the Rose Island grew considerably, causing increasing concern to the Italian law enforcement agencies.
The Italian Guardia di Finanza set up a naval blockade around the island, preventing anyone from docking there.
At this stage, Isola delle Rose had only one permanent resident, Pietro Bernardini, who, after being shipwrecked in the Adriatic Sea during a storm, reached the safety of the platform after 8 hours at sea; he then rented the platform for a year.
During the summer of 1968 it seems that the micronation had (or intended to have) its own small radio station in medium waves, presumably in order to have a means of information to raise public awareness of its cause and to counter the repressive actions of the Italian government.
55 days after the declaration of independence, on Tuesday 25th June 1968 at 7:00 a.m., a dozen police pilots with agents of the Police, Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza surrounded the platform and took possession of it.
The “Government of the Esperantist Republic of Rose Island” sent a telegram to the President of the Italian Republic Giuseppe Saragat to complain about “the violation of its sovereignty and the wound inflicted on local tourism by the military occupation”, but it was ignored.
Netflix in 2020 produced a film inspired by engineer Rosa, “Rose Island”
On February 11, 1969, divers of the Italian Navy demolished the masonry structures (cement and brick), and sawed off the connections between the poles of the steel structure of the Isola delle Rose, they mined it with 75 kg of explosive per pole (675 kg total) to make it implode and recover the debris (because dangerous for fishing). However, once the charges were detonated, the island resisted the first explosion, as the supporting pylons had been constructed in a telescope shape and only a hollow was created by the explosion. After 2 days, on February 13, 1969, 120 kg of explosives were applied to each pole (1080 kg total), but the new explosion only deformed the supporting structure of the island, without causing it to collapse. On Wednesday, February 26, 1969, a gale sank the Rose Island. The final act was communicated in the Bollettino dei Naviganti dell’Emilia-Romagna.
Giorgio Rosa lived up to 92 yearGiorgio Rosa died at the age of 92 in Bologna, in March 2017.
Matteo Damiani is an Italian sinologist, photographer, author and motion designer. Matteo lived and worked for ten years in China. Founder of CinaOggi.it, China-underground.com, Weirditaly.com and RetroFuturista.com.